Manager Don Wakamatsu is a lot of things, thoughtful, positive and extremely honest. So tonight following the Mariners 6-5 loss to the Angels at Safeco, that honesty came out in his criticism of his starting pitcher, Felix Hernandez.
While players like Yuniesky Betancourt have drawn sharp criticism of Wakamatsu, Felix has not had such comments. Really Felix hasn't had much criticism in a while. But Wakamatsu was not impressed with Hernandez's outing of 5 2/3 innings pitched, 6 runs allowed on 11 hits.
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"Our team revolves around pitching and defense and we were good at neither at the start of the game," Wakamatsu said. "Felix wasn't sharp. Sometimes you ask guys to step up and I don't think he stepped up today."
Well Felix certainly had his issues. He never made it an inning without allowing a base runner and he threw 107 pitches with 63 strikes.
However, it was Felix's inability to slow down or even seem to pay proper attention to the Angels' running game. The Angels stole five bases in eight attempts. And while Kenji Johjima isn't known to be particularly great at throwing out runners, Wakamatsu felt that Felix allowed them to good of jumps by not being quicker to the plate.
"A lot of it how hard it has to do with how hard we worked to control the running game," Wakamatsu said. "Anaheim is a good club, but it's an embarrassment to allow them to steal five bags off of us. If we do a better job of controlling the running game it's a different outcome."
Felix isn't fast to home, but he usually isn't horrible. But Wakamatsu said he was in the 1.5 to 1.6 seconds range and that is just too slow.
"It comes and goes," Wakamatsu said of Hernandez's times to the plate. "And that's what we talk about showing up, especially as talented as Anaheim is."
Felix had a different opinion of his start. When asked if he was frustrated, he responded: "I'm not frustrated, hell no," he said. "For me it was a good performance. I made good pitches and they just hit the ball in the holes."
So we have a differing of opinions.
When asked about the stolen bases, Felix said he tried to keep them close, and that stolen bases were part of the game and that the Angels are just good at it.
Ronny Cedeno got the start over Betancourt and delivered a two-run homer and a sac bunt that led to a run. If I had to guess, Cedeno will be starting on Wednesday night, perhaps at second base. Jose Lopez had a tough game. He went 0-for-4 at the plate, including grounding into a double play with runners on first and third and one out in the fifth inning. He also showed poor range on two of Torii Hunter's singles and booted a sure double play that cost the Mariners a run in a one run loss.
Wakamatsu mentioned both in his postgame comments.
On the booted double play ball ...
"That hurt us, and that's the defense I'm talking about," Wakamatsu said.
On hitting into a double play and swinging at the first pitch ...
"We could have tacked on a run and kept the game even or go ahead," Wakamatsu said.
Wakamatsu was as frustrated as I've ever seen him, but it might not be the last time. This team has been so close in games, but silly things have cost them. And until they get cleaned up, or addressed, they will continue to haunt them in key situations.